“Just Imagine”…Unchallenged, Government Tells Supreme Court While Torturing: “The United States Is Gonna Honor Its Treaty Obligations”

6:10 pm in Uncategorized by powwow

David Cornwell (British author John le Carré) speaking in a March, 2002 interview:

The Cold War was fought under a constant mystery: How much can we do in defense of a free and decent society and remain a free and decent society that is worth defending? So there was always a very great unease, particularly in the secret world, about the methods with which we protected our virtue, as we saw it.

[...]

When you’ve got a preconception, you can always decorate it with slightly bent intelligence.

On this ninth anniversary of the opening of the notorious American prison camp built on a U.S. Navy Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to hold, and, above all, to interrogate, foreigners claimed to be law of war combatants, I’ve transcribed below part of a recent interview of an English-speaking detainee – a citizen of Britain – who was transported by cargo plane from Afghanistan to Guantanamo’s Camp X-Ray in February, 2002.  [His two British companions, Shafiq Rasul and Asif Iqbal - they're collectively known as the "Tipton Three" - were flown to Cuba a month earlier, on January 13, 2002, two days after the prison camp opened nine years ago today, 1/11/11.]

That former detainee is Ruhal Ahmed, and the transcribed portion of his joint interview with Shafiq Rasul (made especially poignant and compelling by the presence of Ahmed’s young daughter), which was conducted in East London by British writer Andy Worthington last September 18th – nine years to the day after President Bush signed the never-rescinded Congressional Authorization for Use of Military Force (war) against the perpetrators of 9/11/2001 – may be viewed here (starting about five minutes in; don’t miss Shafiq Rasul’s account in the first two minutes of the clip):

Interspersed with my transcript of Ahmed’s account of his pre-April, 2004 Guantanamo experiences, is my transcription of an exchange that took place in open court in the United States Supreme Court, on April 28, 2004, as two of the justices questioned the appointed representative of the U.S. government at the time, Deputy Solicitor General Paul Clement of the Executive Branch’s Department of Justice. Clement was resisting, in the name of the President and Congress and the American people, the efforts of another wartime detainee – U.S./Saudi citizen Yaser Hamdi – to have his claim, of being unlawfully detained as an armed-conflict combatant, heard and adjudicated by a neutral decision-maker in our independent Judicial Branch of government, or elsewhere.

Ruhal Ahmed and his two companions were seized by Northern Alliance forces in northern Afghanistan (where they’d been touring the area prior to attending the wedding of Iqbal in Pakistan, apparently partly in search of “dope,” but without even a tangential connection to any armed conflict, if one can prove a negative) in late November, 2001, were soon transferred to the custody of American Special Forces troops in Afghanistan, and then forcibly flown in January and February, 2002 to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where they were held, abused, and interrogated, until released to British custody – without explanation, apology, or reparations from the United States President or Congress then or since – in March, 2004.

Ahmed’s appallingly-abusive treatment and torture, while in American military custody in Afghanistan and Guantanamo, were detailed at length in a joint public account by the three British friends on July 26, 2004, part of The Guantánamo Testimonials Project of the University of California at Davis’s Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas (CSHRA). That laudable academic project has been voluntarily compiling, during the abdication of Congressional oversight and DOJ enforcement of the law against powerful government actors, the evidence of crimes committed by agents of our federal government, that other members of our government should have been compiling and using to impeach and prosecute, years ago.   Some excerpts from that written account:

80. During the first several weeks [in Guantanamo] the American interrogations with all three [men] consisted of pressing them to ‘just say you’re a fighter’. Asif [Iqbal] was told ‘if you just say you’re a fighter, because of the Geneva Convention when the war is over you’ll get sent back to England’. [Ruhal Ahmed] was told ‘just say you’re a fighter and you’ll go home’. He was told ‘you’ve come to kill American and British soldiers, coalition forces’. They talked about ‘allied forces’. They referred to the Northern Alliance as being the same as ‘allied forces’.

[...]

98. The interrogators very rarely introduced themselves. Occasionally they lied about the organizations they worked for and all three men believe the names they gave were almost always false. This misinformation was quite common. As an example, on one occasion [Ruhal Ahmed] told an investigator that one of her colleagues from the FBI had kept him in the interrogation room for 18 hours (this was in Camp Delta). He described the interrogator. The person to whom he was complaining told him that he knew the woman and that she was not from the FBI but from Military Intelligence.

99. In relation to the interrogators, they generally changed. It was very rare to have the same interrogator on a regular basis. Shafiq [Rasul] says ‘I only ever saw the same interrogator on three occasions at the most’.

100. The organizations that were involved in the interrogations included the CIA, FBI, DOD, MI5, NCI (Navy Crime Investigators), NSA, Army CID.

[...]

Camp Delta – Conditions
124. After Camp X-Ray all three were transferred to Camp Delta about May 2002. The conditions in Camp Delta were more permanent than those in Camp X-Ray. The cells were made out of large shipping containers. The sides at either end had been removed as had the front. Inside each container they had constructed 6 mesh cages. The back wall, the floor and the roof were from the metal container but the side walls and the front were made of mesh. In the back wall there was cut out a square to act as a window, but this also had thick mesh across it.

[...]

Interrogations at Camp Delta
170. In relation to the interrogation blocks at Delta, they fell into the following categories: yellow building, brown building, gold building, blue building, grey building and orange building. All the booths either had a miniature camera hidden in them (it was possible to see the cameras in the air vents) or they had one way glass behind which sometimes it was possible to make out other individuals using video cameras. Asif [Iqbal] states that ‘during one particular interview with MI5, I remember seeing people behind the MI5 man filming me. Most of the interrogations in Camp 1 were in the brown or the yellow building. After they built Camp 2, most of the routine interrogations took place in the gold building and the brown building was then used for the torture’.

[...]

220. After about a week [at one point, a year or more into detention] I [Asif Iqbal] was taken to interrogation [from isolation]. I was taken there by guards from 9/4. These were the Rhode Island, Massachusetts Soldiers. They had a reputation for the worst violence. I remember once General Miller had to investigate them for using excessive force as they had beaten up one man who ended up as a cabbage.

[...]

234. After about three months in isolation we were all brought out and moved to Kilo block [as, unknown to them, the time for their release neared]. This was a normal block that was also run by Intel as opposed to the Army. The three of us were placed in this block and we were no longer in isolation, we were allowed to talk to each other [all the cells were bugged].

Like every other Guantanamo prisoner, including the 173 who remain in custody today, after the release or death of the rest of the peak population of almost 800, Ruhal Ahmed was held without benefit of Prisoner of War (POW) status or treatment, despite being denied the Article 5-compliant screening mandated by pre-existing U.S. Army regulation, or any judicial or Congressional review of his detention conditions – which were in clear (and willful) violation of the Third Geneva Convention, and Common Article 3 minimum humane treatment standards (both the law of the land), for more than two years.

The U.S. President and Congress ought to be required to read the Third Geneva Convention (part of our “treaty obligations”), sometime.  It requires, in part, for screened and unscreened (default) POWs, that:

Art 13. Prisoners of war must at all times be humanely treated. Any unlawful act or omission by the Detaining Power causing death or seriously endangering the health of a prisoner of war in its custody is prohibited, and will be regarded as a serious breach of the present Convention. In particular, no prisoner of war may be subjected to physical mutilation or to medical or scientific experiments of any kind which are not justified by the medical, dental or hospital treatment of the prisoner concerned and carried out in his interest.

Likewise, prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity.

Measures of reprisal against prisoners of war are prohibited.

Art 14. Prisoners of war are entitled in all circumstances to respect for their persons and their honour.

[...]

Art 17. Every prisoner of war, when questioned on the subject, is bound to give only his surname, first names and rank, date of birth, and army, regimental, personal or serial number, or failing this, equivalent information.

[...]

No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind.

[...]

Art 25. Prisoners of war shall be quartered under conditions as favourable as those for the forces of the Detaining Power who are billeted in the same area. The said conditions shall make allowance for the habits and customs of the prisoners and shall in no case be prejudicial to their health.

The foregoing provisions shall apply in particular to the dormitories of prisoners of war as regards both total surface and minimum cubic space, and the general installations, bedding and blankets.

The premises provided for the use of prisoners of war individually or collectively, shall be entirely protected from dampness and adequately heated and lighted, in particular between dusk and lights out. All precautions must be taken against the danger of fire.

[...]

Art 48. In the event of transfer, prisoners of war shall be officially advised of their departure and of their new postal address. Such notifications shall be given in time for them to pack their luggage and inform their next of kin.

They shall be allowed to take with them their personal effects, and the correspondence and parcels which have arrived for them. The weight of such baggage may be limited, if the conditions of transfer so require, to what each prisoner can reasonably carry, which shall in no case be more than twenty-five kilograms per head.

Mail and parcels addressed to their former camp shall be forwarded to them without delay.

[Etc.]

In April, 2004, the month after Ruhal Ahmed was transferred to British custody from U.S. military custody, after enduring Guantanamo detention conditions so intolerable that months earlier he’d “confessed” to being a part of Al Qaeda and having foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks, Deputy Solicitor General of the United States Paul Clement told the justices of the United States Supreme Court that “the United States is gonna honor its treaty obligations” in the Executive Branch’s classified, unsupervised detention of foreign citizens – over whose fates the president and military assert unilateral control during the (still-ongoing) war against those non-uniformed 9/11 terrorists (and their accomplices) who survived the 2001 suicide attacks.  Clement further declared to the nine high court justices that the Executive Branch alone can and will “constrain the actions” of government agents, so as to make otherwise-unenforced treaties “binding” and capable of preventing the torture or abuse of helpless presidential prisoners, when it’s left unchecked and unsupervised by the other two branches of government.

Judge for yourselves the veracity of our government’s word, as asserted in person to the justices of the United States Supreme Court.

Ruhal Ahmed, ISN 110, describing, last September, what he experienced in Guantanamo Bay detention camps before April, 2004:

The frequent flyer program means basically a detainee is picked by his interrogator, simply because maybe he’s, they think he’s a high profile. What they would do – every fifteen minutes you would move, they would move you from cell to cell, throughout the clock. So, if you should imagine – to move a person, it takes at least twenty minutes – the procedure, to move someone. They need to be shackled, which takes about ten minutes. The door needs to be opened, there have to be three guys who need to escort the person to another cell. Um, it’s not like you go, you move from cell one to cell two – you could be from cell one, which is in Alpha Block, to Block B or Block C. So you can just imagine how long it takes for a person to be transported from one place to another. And that would happen every fifteen minutes. So I mean, as soon as you get into your cell, fifteen minutes from that time, you’re gonna get moved again, throughout the clock. So just imagine moving, and getting moved again, every fifteen minutes of the day.

You can’t sleep, for week upon weeks. Some brothers went through it for months. And eventually you become, you become like a vegetable. You know – you have no control over your head, you know, of your body. You’re just, look a zombie, living a zombie… Eventually, you can’t, you can’t kneel down… Because we had to kneel down to get shackled up, to get prepared to move from cell to cell. But what they do – because you’re so tired and so exhausted of being moved and moved to place to place, what they would do is walk into your cell and they’d kind of drag you to the next cell, to the next block. That’s the frequent flyer program.

Hamdi Supreme Court Oral Argument on April 28, 2004:

Justice John Paul Stevens [addressing Deputy Solicitor General Paul Clement]: It sounds from your argument that the principal interest that the government wants to advance is the ability to interrogate the person [in Guantanamo or elsewhere] for a sufficient length of time to determine whether they’ll get valuable information out of them or not. And to deny him counsel during the period – that period – because he may not be as willing to talk. Now it seems to me there are two things about that I wanted to ask you about: One, have you considered the possibility that perhaps a lawyer would’ve explained to this man that if you do give some information, you won’t have to stay here incommunicado for two or three years; that might be a motivation to talk. That’s one possibility.

Ruhal Ahmed, ISN 110, describing, last September, what he experienced in Guantanamo Bay detention camps before April, 2004:

Then you, then you have obviously ah, the – where they would limit your food. If you are in isolation they would limit your proportion of the food. You weren’t getting huge amounts of meals, like we get here [referencing his London location], and especially [unintelligible, to the audience with a smile]. But just imagine them getting, you know… What we used to get in a normal, in a normal blocks we’d get… Let me, how should I put this now… Just imagine, you get two pieces of bread, ahm, and probably enough sauce just to wipe that plate clean. That’s your meal, you know. And breakfast would be even smaller, you know, and lunch you would get literally nothing. So, you know, just imagine them controlling your meal now. So, you know, you don’t even get half of that or a quarter of that, if you’re on that program. And on top of that, you’re isolated. You know, you’re in isolation, you can’t speak to nobody. You can’t talk, you can’t go out your cell. You don’t get to go to the showers, for recreation, and so on.

Hamdi Supreme Court Oral Argument on April 28, 2004:

Justice Stevens: And the second thing I wanted to ask you about: Are there any cases in the international field or the law – anywhere – explaining that the interest in detaining a person incommunicado for a long period of time for the purpose of obtaining information from him is a legitimate justification for it? I understand arresting on the battlefield – that’s perfectly clear. But is this prolonged detention for that purpose the subject of judicial writing anywhere that you know about?

Deputy U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement: Let me answer both parts of your question, Justice Stevens. [...]

Ruhal Ahmed, ISN 110, describing, last September, what he experienced in Guantanamo Bay detention camps before April, 2004:

Basically, in 2003, that’s when the condition of the prison got extremely worse, when General [Geoffrey] Miller was put in power. Um, and basically – before that it was not as bad, but when General Miller came in power, when he became the General there, they started introducing short-shackling, hot and cold temperatures, isolation for long periods of time, the frequent flyer program, and so on. So what that means is basically if you’re classed as a high-profile person, these things would apply to you, and you would have all these kind of things happening to you. You’d go to interrogation on a daily basis, be short-shackled.

Short-shackled is – I don’t know if you guys know what a “three-piece suit” is – it’s… If you watch American films, when the prisoner gets arrested, they put handcuffs on him which has a link on the chain that falls to the feet, it’s like – they call it a “three-piece suit.” And when you walk, you actually shuffle like a penguin. The restriction of the shackle itself is quite tight. The short-shackle – what they do is they put you in a room and there’s a hook on the floor. And they uncuff your hands, get a separate pair of cuffs, cuff your hands, make you bend down, and they put that link where the shackles is in that hook, padlock that, force you to bend down, put your hands behind your back, and get a second pair of cuffs and cuff you. Just imagine your hands being cuffed where your ankles are. And that’s short-shackling. Which means you can’t actually sit flat-footed. So you have – you’re constantly on your toes and the ball of your foot. If you go forward, it cuts into your wrists. And if you go backwards, it cuts into your ankles. So you can be in that position for days, sometimes for two, three days. I mean, I went through it for about 2 and a half days, I think Shafiq [Rasul] did the same. But some brothers, especially the Arab brothers, they went through it for a longer period of time. That’s short-shackling.

Hamdi Supreme Court Oral Argument on April 28, 2004:

Clement: I think – to get to your second part of the question – I don’t know that there are any authorities that I’m aware of that address exactly what you’re talking about. But I think there’re two types of authority that we would point to as being very important. First of all, it’s long been recognized that one of the major justifications for the detention of enemy combatants or prisoners of war is to gather intelligence, and we cite some sources to that effect in the brief. The second thing – and I think this is important – is that is has never been the case that prisoners of war are entitled to counsel to challenge their capture or their detention. What has happened historically, and what the Geneva Convention provides, is that if one of those enemy combatants is charged with a specific war crime, then at that point they are entitled to counsel. But if they are just being held in a preventative detention, then, in that circumstance, they are not entitled to counsel.

Ruhal Ahmed, ISN 110, describing, last September, what he experienced in Guantanamo Bay detention camps before April, 2004:

And then, obviously, if you have to urinate or go – you know, if you need to take a number two – you’d have to urinate on yourself and defecate on yourself. You wasn’t allowed to pray. During that period, they would have extremely loud music, they would have strobe lights. And you – just imagine being in that room. It’s a very small room, it’s a very, you know, confined room. It’s only like about two by two, if that. And it’s kind of sound proof. So they’ve got a system in there, and they’re playing – you know, most likely it was heavy metal music, with strobe lights. So it’s like you were being in a night club, but it’s not, you know.

And eventually, after being there for 3, 4 hours, you know – first of all, it’s the pain that’s killing you. Then afterwards, you know, you try to kind of concentrate on other things to kind of relieve yourself of the pain – think about things. But when the music’s on, it’s in your ears, constantly, and eventually you can start hearing every instrument that’s playing. Every note. At the same time they would come in with dogs and interrogate you – you know, dogs would be right, you know, by your face, barking. Um, and throwing, you know, kicking you, punching you, asking you to sign confessions – you know, you’re Al Qaeda, you’re this and that. And through – you’re just thinking in your head, you’re kind of – your mind goes blank.

Hamdi Supreme Court Oral Argument on April 28, 2004:

Justice Stevens: May I ask just one other question – I think it’s just relevant… Do you think there’s anything in the law that curtails the method of interrogation that may be employed?

Clement: Well, I, I think there is, Justice Stevens, I mean…

Justice Stevens: And what is that?

Clement: Well, I mean, just to give one example – I think that the United States is signatory to conventions that prohibit torture and that sort of thing. So that’s – you know, the United States is gonna honor its treaty obligations. The other thing that’s worth mentioning, of course…

Ruhal Ahmed, ISN 110, describing, last September, what he experienced in Guantanamo Bay detention camps before April, 2004:

And eventually you start hearing things and seeing things – even when they’re gone, you think they’re still there. So it kind of takes over your mind. And eventually I think me and Shafs [Rasul] and some other brothers who were subject to these kind of things, we all signed a confession. We, you know, we came to the point – where, you know, we came to the point, because I [had stayed there?] for about five months, as well [the video "evidence"/"confession" was apparently more than a year into his detention - pow wow]. And I said, I said to myself, you know – I’m in Guantanamo, it can’t get worse, let me just sign this piece of paper, and let me see what happens. Because if they take me to court, it’s better for me – you know, at least I can, I can tell my part of the story, and I’ll probably have a lawyer.

Hamdi Supreme Court Oral Argument on April 28, 2004:

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: But you said about, something about self-executing in connection with Geneva Convention. You said well, it’s not self-executing. Would you say that – the same thing – about the torture convention?

Clement: Justice Ginsburg, I actually have the sense that, that, that, that the Torture Victim – I mean, you have the Torture Victim Protection Act, of course, which I think doesn’t actually apply to the United States, so I’m not sure that there would be any other basis for bringing a private cause of action against the United States. But as this Court noted in Footnote 14 of its Eisentrager opinion, the idea that a treaty is gonna be enforced through means other than a private cause of action doesn’t mean that it’s not a binding treaty, doesn’t mean that it’s not gonna constrain the actions of the Executive Branch.

Ruhal Ahmed, ISN 110, describing, last September, what he experienced in Guantanamo Bay detention camps before April, 2004:

So we all went into interrogation, and they had these photos. And there’s a video of bin Laden giving a speech, and there’s a crowd, just like yourself, just sitting there. And there was Mohammed Atta there. And behind him, apparently, there’s three of us – me, Shafiq [Rasul] and Asif [Iqbal]. And there was like – the pictures were a still of a video, so it was very, very poor quality. You couldn’t even see the person’s face. But simply because, in my interrogation, I said I was wearing an Adidas tracksuit bottom – and this guy had a tracksuit top, just like yourself [pointing to someone in the audience] – and they said, oh, this is you – yeah, I mean… And it was just amazing, and I thought ‘okay, yeah, that’s me’ – I said give me a piece of paper. And we all signed it. We all signed to say we were part of Al Qaeda and we knew about 9/11 and blah, blah, blah. And, Hamdallah, it stopped – all the bad feelings stopped. Which was amazing. And, I thought, why didn’t they just say/send that the first day we got there. You know. And after, you know, a few months we was released, which was quite, really strange.

[Note: The referenced bin Laden video was dated either January 8, 2000 (1/8/00) or August 1, 2000 (8/1/00), the U.S. did not know which (and didn't reveal either date to the detainees for some time). There were records in England proving that both Ahmed and Rasul were present in England on both of those dates in 2000, which, with diplomatic efforts for and by the U.K. (Tony Blair) late in 2003, apparently helped lead to the release from Guantanamo of Ahmed, Rasul and Iqbal in March, 2004 - despite their having already "confessed" in writing, weeks or months earlier, to being, among other things, "part of" Al Qaeda, informed about 9/11 planning, and out of England and in the bin Laden speech audience abroad, near 9/11 hijacker Atta, on one or both of those dates in 2000. - pow wow]

Hamdi Supreme Court Oral Argument on April 28, 2004:

Clement: Just to finish up my answer to Justice Stevens’s question – I wouldn’t want there to be any misunderstanding about this. It’s also the judgement of those involved in these processes that the last thing you wanna do is torture somebody or try to do something along those lines. I mean, if there were an artificial – if you did that, you might get information more quickly, but you’d really wonder about the reliability of the information you were getting. The judgement of the people who do this as their responsibility is that the way you get the best information from individuals is that you interrogate them, you try to develop a relationship of trust…

Ruhal Ahmed, ISN 110, describing, last September, what he experienced in Guantanamo Bay detention camps before April, 2004:

But that’s why it happens, you know, when you are subject to this kind of treatment, you eventually break, you eventually crack. Some people go to the extreme of, you know, trying to kill themselves. I witnessed many brothers who tried to hang themselves, to cut themselves, with the plates – the plastic spoons and knives, you know, to sharpen them up. Whatever method they tried, they wasn’t successful. But obviously two were – two brothers did manage to kill themselves, apparently. But, you know, it’s quite hard to believe, ’cause everyone’s tightly controlled. It’s impossible to kill yourself in Guantanamo. [Beginning of the third video clip, available for viewing here; Rasul describes seeing and talking to Omar Khadr in Guantanamo later in this clip.] But nevertheless people do try – brothers do try and especially the brothers who have families. Not the ones who are single. It’s usually the ones who are married, who had kids, who had more of a responsibility, unlike myself, at that point.

That’s what, eventually, you think about. I’m not going to say here, myself and I’m sure Shaf [Rasul] – we’ve considered to kill ourselves, because it’s the position that they put you in, and the stress you go through. Not having your family there, you know, not being able to talk to your mum, your father, your brothers, your sisters. Not being allowed to have a letter – like Shaf [Rasul] said, my mother sent me a letter which my sister wrote, and the first line was “How are you, son?” At the end – it was all, the middle was all crossed out – at the bottom “I love you, Mum.” I mean, how much hope do you get from a letter? And there’s no hope, and you think of, you think of killing yourself. That’s what happens. Hamdallah, you know, most brothers would help you, you know, talk to you and say, that’s not the right thing to do, have patience, until that patience comes through.

As Lynn Parramore recently noted about just one aspect of what Ruhal Ahmed and hundreds of others endured and continue to endure in Guantanamo’s prison camps, in her important and timely New Year’s Eve post “Tortured Until Proven Guilty,” focusing on the months-long abusive military confinement of American Bradley Manning, in advance of his trial in the regular Executive Branch-operated, UCMJ-governed military justice system (a military justice system that Congress and the President deliberately undermined, by carving out exceptions to prevent its application to the small minority of Guantanamo detainees formally accused of committing war crimes):

Charles Dickens had a keen interest in prison conditions, having witnessed his father’s detention in a Victorian debtor’s prison. When he heard about the latest American innovation in housing convicts, he came to see for himself. At Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary, the wretches he found in solitary confinement were barely human specters who picked their flesh raw and stared blankly at walls. His on-the-spot conclusion: Solitary confinement is torture. Dickens wrote:

I believe that very few men are capable of estimating the immense amount of torture and agony which this dreadful punishment, prolonged for years, inflicts upon the sufferers…I hold this slow and daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain, to be immeasurably worse than any torture of the body: and because its ghastly signs and tokens are not so palpable to the eye and sense of touch as scars upon the flesh; because its wounds are not upon the surface, and it extorts few cries that human ears can hear; therefore I the more denounce it, as a secret punishment which slumbering humanity is not roused up to stay.

A man who had seen his share of inhumanities, Dickens pronounced solitary confinement to be “rigid, strict, and hopeless…cruel and wrong.”

That was 1842. Since then, piles of scientific studies, along with the vivid accounts of victims, have confirmed what was obvious to Dickens.

[...]

The placement of human beings in solitary confinement is not a measure of their depravity. It is a measure of our own.